Guest Blog post # 65: "Conscious Incompetence" by the infamous Bad Eventer!

Conscious Incompetence


There are lots of stages of learning. In the beginning you have no idea about anything, so you don't know just how much you don't know. As you learn more, at some point you HOPEFULLY, discover just how vast the chasm in your knowledge really is.
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I've been riding for 36 years. Yes, I know I'm a dinosaur.
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And I've found that approximately every 2-3 years I discover that I STILL have no idea what I'm doing.
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This week was one of those times.
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The last event went well.
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Ok, let's back up.
thought it went well.
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We scored in the 20s in dressage and jumped around. The problem, is when you have a super star Intermediate horse, they don't typically take kindly to slowing down and jumping little stuff. That's just not Wonder Pony's thing. So we BLAZED around the stadium & cross country with lightning speed.
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We finished with a number & not a letter. We jumped all the jumps. And seeing that I've competed this horse at Intermediate, I thought we should get back to Prelim ASAP so I can slow him down a bit.
So we entered our next show at Prelim. This really isn't a stretch. This last February I hadn't competed in MONTHS and I took him out at Prelim cold turkey. Other than a few rails  the weekend went well.
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Or did it??
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So I'm having my last jump school before the show this weekend, and the wheels completely came off.
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I guess I was due. Since I headed off for my working student adventure all of my lessons have been pretty fantastic. When you have that many good lessons in a row, you're just adding to the possibility of a really bad one in your future.
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It was a bad lesson. It was bad enough I questioned why I was here. Why I wanted to event. Why I had left my nice house with a pool to live in a horse trailer.....................
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I even thought maybe I should go home and go back to working as a vet full time, I'm REALLY good at that.
I have this maybe-not-so-irrational fear that I'll never be any good at this sport.
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I know someone who spent her entire adult life trying to get to the upper levels. She bought nice horses, trained with top people, rode several horses every day...............and she never made it.
Could that be me? Am I just  - incapable?
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So we have a lesson this week where we don't jump the jumps. And when we do jump them it's so wild and out of control I can't get to the next jump. We finished the lesson with some cross country jumps, which are my ponies' specialty and my fabulous coach says, "Soooooooo. I know you can jump Prelim cross country no problem. But I'm concerned you won't GET to cross country....... 
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Maybe you should just go training level?"
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There's nothing quite like a demotion.
Training level.
On an Intermediate horse.
It feels like sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving.
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But after the terrible, horrible, gawd awful lesson we had right before the show - I had to agree with the decision.
Then something happened.
I got to the show and we walked the stadium course & talked about how many strides should be in each line.
Ok, here's the reality. I've never once managed to jump a stadium course and make the striding work out.
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I'm too busy trying to remember to breath and remember the course, and keep the horse between me and the ground. I've not once managed to even know how many strides I got, let alone how many were supposed to be there. Isn't it good enough that we went between the flags? Who cares that I did 6 strides in the 7 stride line and 5 1/2 strides in the 4 stride line, right? This is eventing, we don't care about that stuff. Just go between the flags and leave the jumps up and the score is the same whether it's pretty or terrifying..................right??!!
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For the first time in my life, I paid attention to the strides I should be getting in stadium. And I made them happen. That's when I realized that I've been "getting away" with competing at Prelim for years, while having no clue what I was actually doing.
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Then I demoted myself.

I decided I had better sort this out before we go back to the bigger jumps.
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Every few years I figure out I have no idea what I'm doing.


Here we go again.
 

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